Hail can strike without warning and cause significant damage to property, including exposed automobiles. The best thing to do in any hailstorm is to move your car to shelter immediately, but this is often impossible. If you can't get your vehicle to safety, then it's important not to panic. Hail varies widely in size and mass, significantly affecting the potential for damage. Once the storm is over, it's time to move into action and take a few steps to evaluate your situation and plan your next moves.

Step 1: Check For Damage

The sound of ice slamming into your car's beautiful paint can be nerve-wracking, but not all hail will result in damage. If your vehicle is still covered in ice, use a soft rag or towel to wipe it clean and check for evidence of damage. Hail damage tends to leave small dents that aren't always immediately visible, so be sure to check in good lighting conditions. A flashlight can be helpful for this inspection. Don't forget to carefully examine your windows for chips and cracks.

Take pictures of any hail damage that you find. Although it's unlikely that your insurance company will deny your claim, it helps to collect as much evidence as possible.

Step 2: Check Your Insurance Policy

If you find damage, then it's likely that your auto policy will cover it. Hail damage falls under the umbrella of comprehensive coverage, so you will need to have this type of coverage on your policy to qualify. Lower-deductible comprehensive coverage is typically much cheaper than low-deductible collision coverage, so your policy will likely cover most of the repair cost.

Step 3: Start Your Claim

If you have comprehensive coverage, then it's best to start your claim as soon as possible. In many cases, your first call will only get the claims process moving; an agent from the insurance company will call you back later to collect details. Expect to talk to your insurance company once or twice over the next few days and to have an adjuster examine your vehicle. If your car is still drivable, your insurance company may request that you bring it to their collision center for appraisal. You can decline this service if you wish and use your own shop.

Step 4: Contact A Repair Shop

If you are declining to use your insurance company's collision center, then you'll need to find a skilled repair shop to work on your vehicle. Auto body shops typically work directly with your insurance company to ensure that your damage is fully covered. Hail damage rarely requires repainting, so finding a shop that specializes in paintless dent repair is a good idea.

Suffering hail damage can be inconvenient, but it doesn't have to keep your car out of commission for weeks. Acting quickly to begin the claims process and find a repair shop that offers hail damage repair services will help you to get your vehicle looking as good as new in no time at all.